If there’s a road trip destination we recommend for girls like us who love the coastal life in Melbourne, it’s the Mornington Peninsula. Best known for its beautiful beaches and national parks, the Peninsula is also home to a fantastic line up of eateries and local producers, which make it the ideal location to escape to, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The Shire is made up of so many beautiful towns including Blairgowrie, Cape Schanck, Dromana, Mornington, Mount Eliza, Point Leo, Portsea, Red Hill and Sorrento, to name just a few of my favourites.
We got behind the wheel of our super-stylish Nissan QASHQAI and headed southeast out of Melbourne, to the beautiful Victorian coastline region. It’s our final trip of the three-part series we have enjoyed in the QASHQAI, so be sure to check out our Yarra Valley and Melbourne posts if you haven’t already.
The drive around the Peninsula is heavenly. There are so many beautiful things to see and experience, and the views out the windows and panoramic glass roof were breathtaking. It’s so cool to be able to look up and see the seagulls flying overhead, or a seaplane coming into land.
Be it a pit stop at the beach or driving up in the Hinterland to one of the great lookouts, the Nissan nav system guided us in ease to each of the destinations on our hit list. Even in some cloudy and wet patches of weather, the SUV’s snappy automatic wipers switched themselves on and we were transported in safety and comfort through the shire.
The ultimate road trip to Mornington Peninsula… Our hit list!
Get your Eats + Drink on!
Where to start when it comes to the best eateries and bars on the Peninsula? You can dine in chef-hat restaurants, sample the finest local wines and brews in super-chic watering holes, or get cosy in a modern coastal cafe and sip coffee all afternoon with your latest cannot put-down book. I’ve picked out three of my favourites which I think you’ll agree are a great way to experience life in true coastal style:
Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove is one of the most beautiful places to visit on the Mornington Peninsula. After a quick visit to their cellar door to purchase some house wine and oil, we dined in the Piazza garden overlooking the vineyard and sculpture trail. Do yourself a favour and try the beetroot salad, the perfect side for any of their delicious mains on the (seasonal and locally grown) menu.
DOC Mornington is a Pizzeria and Delicatessen and I am in love with their menu. Every time I dine here I get a case of #fomo, with my fave dishes (this month) being lasagna and the tiger prawn pizza. Lunch or dinner is best served with a local brew or wine and don’t forget to stock up with their take home pasta and sauces before you get back on the road.
Merchant Lane reinvents a little piece of Melbourne’s famous laneways and culture in Mornington’s Main Street. Gather here to eat, drink and be entertained, it’s the perfect ultra-cool place for a Friday or Saturday night out with the girls.
Some retail therapy?
The Peninsula is home to a range of shopping experiences. From village strips to small shopping centres, gourmet food emporiums and seaside homeware retailers, you can stop and shop up a storm at a farm grocer or a designer fashion boutique.
My top pick is the Country Road lifestyle concept store located within the historic post office building at Sorrento; it’s the perfect place to get your shop on. Combining a café, retail space and surrounding gardens, the store mixes old architecture with new; the light and pared back palette of the interior is a refreshing backdrop to complement the Woman, Man, Child and Home collections.
Where to learn to surf?
The Mornington Peninsula Surf School moves with the tide… This means the best location on the day is chosen for your lessons and you spend as much time as possible in the water making sure you get the most from the lesson.
They offer both group and private surfing lessons from beginner to advanced level, surfing guide trips, surfing awareness, for kids, adults, families, girls only, not-for-profit charity groups, school groups and corporate groups.
Where to Indulge?
If you’re a girl who loves a serious pampering, than the Peninsula Hot Springs are for you! This natural hot springs and day spa is located on the outskirts of the township of Rye; providing the idyllic setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. Take a dip in one of their bathing pools or book yourself in for one of their luxury treatments, it’s the perfect place to unwind with your partner or group of friends all year round.
Where to get the perfect Instagram photo?
The iconic rainbow-coloured bathing boxes can be spotted on the beaches from Mount Eliza and Dromana to Rosebud and Portsea. These artistically painted sheds are a reminder that summer is not too far away and are one of the most Instagrammed destinations on the Peninsula.
Drive to the top of the granite hill of Arthur’s Seat to its summit and you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular (Instagram worthy), panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula as far as the Melbourne City scape across the bay.
Where to catch the best Sunset?
Head to the coastline to the small town of Point Leo. Blink and you’ll miss the suburbs general store, but it’s hard to miss the amazing view of the sunset you’ll experience at the surf lifesaving club and foreshore reserve.
The Point Leo Reserve is also the perfect place to get your picnic and barbecue on and you can also book yourself a camping area, to park yourself beach-side, with perfect access to the surf beach.
Where to stay?
Newly opened in Merricks, Jackalope is one hellova sophisticated boutique hotel. It’s just taken out not one, but three of Gourmet Travellers tops awards this year including Hotel of the Year. Yep, it’s that good.
Inspired by the concept of alchemy, Jackalope is unlike anything you’ll find in the region (and in our opinion, across Australia). It’s luxurious and it’s quirky. The fine dining restaurant Doot Doot Doot is outstanding (as is the casual dining option Rare Hare) and the vineyard views from a Vineyard room – WOW!
The hotel itself, as well as the grounds in general, are full of incredible artworks. The look and feel of the hotel, the bar, the restaurant, pretty much everything, is an interior designers dream. The free wifi, free mini bar, free drink on arrival (in their very glam bar Flaggerdoot), valet parking, free in room movies, an infinity pool facing the vineyard… The list of amazingness goes on and on!
You might not want to leave once you check in, and nobody’s going to blame you for that. Do yourself a favour and book two nights, not one. You won’t regret it.
This post is brought to you by Nissan Australia.
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